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San Francisco Bay Area Steam Trains
Steam Trains in the San Francisco Bay Area
Steam trains were very popular in the West when the United States was growing. There are still many steam trains that are in operation. They are operated by hobbyist who love steam trains. The trips are in beautiful settings and the trains are magnificent.
We live in Oakland, California - right across the bridge from San Francisco. The San Francisco Bay Area has many places where you can still ride steam trains. The trains are full scale or narrow gauge or miniature. Riding these trains is wonderful fun for the whole family - from kids to grandparents.
Image: Roaring Camp from Wikipedia Commons
Roaring Camp Steam Train
Roaring Camp Steam Trains is in Felton, California which is in the Santa Cruz mountains. The trains are probably the oldest narrow gauge steam engines in the United States. There are two rides you can take.
One is on a train that travels a little more than three miles from the Roaring Camp depot in Felton and go up very steep grades into the tall trees of a redwood forest to the top of Bear Mountain. At the top there is a group of redwood trees that look like they form a cathedral. You can stay there and picnic and wait for the next train to pick you up. During the Halloween season, they bring pumpkins to the top of Bear Mountain and let the kids pick a pumpkin.
The other ride is from Felton to Santa Cruz. It takes you right to the boardwalk. You can get off the train and spend the day at the amusement park on the Santa Cruz boardwalk or swim in the beach. Then you can take the last train back to Felton.
Roaring Camp Railway - Videos
Sonoma Train Town
Sonoma , California
Sonoma Train Town is geared to young children. Sonoma Train town is a miniature town. There is a small amusement park and a feeding zoo for kids. The steam train runs through the park. going over bridges and through tunnels The ride takes about 20 minutes. A really nice attraction to see for adults is the roundtable that houses all the steam engines There is food in the park, but we find it fun to have a picnic in town right outside Train Town
This is a picture of my kids outside is the roundtable.
Sonoma Train Town - Videos
Redwood Valley Railway
Redwood Valley Railway is in the Berkeley Hills which is very close to my home. I used to take my kids there every weekend when they were younger. Everyone of all ages - including dogs - enjoy this ride. The ride lasts for about 15 minutes through the Berkeley Hills. It is so beautiful up there. When the train enters the tunnel, everyone screams - just to scream. There "bigger" steam engines pull about a dozen open and closed cars that are basically benches in a box that you sit in. There is a "smaller" steam engine that runs on a different track. You sit straggling a long board that is pulled by a much smaller steam engine. We like to ride on both of them. Unfortunately, the smaller train is only open on Sunday afternoons.
The picture is of my son with one of the conductors that he became friendly with.
Redwood Valley Railway - Videos
Niles Canyon Railway
The Niles Canyon Railway runs between Sunol and Niles which is in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. The trains are operated and maintained by the Pacific Locomotion Association. They run both steam engines and diesel trains. The route, which goes through Niles Canyon, is part of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The cars are both enclosed and open. The enclosed car has seating and windows. There is a covered car with no windows and an car that has no roof.
Image: Niles Canyon Railway from Niles Canyon Railway website
Niles Canyon Railway - Videos
California State Railroad Museum
The California State Railroad Museum is a building FULL of train engines - both steam and diesel. They are stationary, but some of them sit on tracks and can be moved. You get to be in different types of train cars such as sleeping cars (it has simulated movement to see what it's like to be on the train), dining car, mail car, and the engine itself. There are movies that show the history of trains in the west. There is also a model train exhibit for kids to look at and play with. There are also a lot of exhibits showing the role that the "Iron Horse" played in the development of California.
The museum is in Old Sacramento - which is a great attraction. It s right next to an Amtrak station. For an extra treat, we take Amtrak to the museum. Of course we have to have a snack from the snack bar. After we go to the museum we like to walk around Old Sacramento, maybe have an old-time photo taken of us, browse in the shops and possibly and horse-drawn carriage ride through Old Town.
The mall is close - just go through a tunnel and you're at the mall. Lots of places to eat and an abundance of stores for shopping.
Image: California State Railroad Museum from the California State Railroad Museum
California State Rallyroad Museum - Videos
Train Books and Toys for Kids - Both Fun and Educational
Trains are fun to read about and play with. These books are full of colorful photographs and the toy trains keep kids occupied for hours.
Have you taken a train ride through beautiful country on a clear spring day? The steam blows in your face and everyone screams as you go through the tunnels.
Tell me about your experience.